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New York 8, Syria 7, Wayne Lapierre 7, E.j. Dionne 6, America 5, David Brooks 5, David Boies 4, Us 4, Chicago 4, Ralph Reed 3, Max 3, Washington 3, Obama 3, Iran 3, Legalzoom 2, Wade 2, Mr. Boies 2, Hilary Rosen 2, Richard Engel 2, Newtown 2,
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  MSNBC    Meet the Press    News/Business. A moderator  
   interviews a leading public figure. (CC)  

    March 24, 2013
    11:00 - 12:00pm PDT  

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for current and former military members and their families. get advice from the people who share your values. for our free usaa retirement guide, call 877-242-usaa. this sunday a special focus on the political debate over our personal freedoms in this country. 100 days since the massacre at a newtown school and the gun safety debate is coming to a head on capitol hill. but are gun control advocates going to be disappointed as an assault weapons ban appears headed for failure? this morning, two key voices in the debatedown me exclusively. new york city mayor michael bloomberg and the executive vice president and ceo of the national rifle association wayne lapierre.
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then, marriage equality. do gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marriage? the supreme court is taking up the question. we'll discuss how far the country has moved on gay marriage politically, but is there still a ways to go? one of the key lawyers in the fight, david boies, joins our discussion. plus, the president in the middle east. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> you are not alone. >> how did he do? analysis about his new push for peace and new warnings for syria and iran. and good sunday morning. new hope for a peace push in the middle east. the president arrived back in washington after a mideast trip that took him to israel for his first time as president as well as visits to the palestinian territories and jordan while a reinvigorated peace process is
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one goal, more pressing concerns for the obama white house, the threats from iran and the effect of the relentless bloodshed in syria. we want to begin with some analysis about the president's trip this morning with our chief foreign correspondent richard engel back from the region. he is in new york this morning. i have david brooks of "the new york times" and e.j. dionne with the "washington post" here with me in washington. richard, let me start with you. the president called on israel to renew efforts to the creation of a palestinian state. he helped restore the israeli/turkish relationship. so what else do you think he can return with that he can actually build upon? >> well, i think the reconciliation between turkey and israel is something that's very important, because i wouldn't see the chances right now of an israeli/palestinian reconciliation, but i do think the middle east recognizes that there are urgent regional matters as syria implodes that the region needs to have some sort of summit and turkey is going to play a big part of that. so i think coming out of this,
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you're going to see istanbul emerging as a major destination for diplomatic relations. i think that was the way to view the middle east trip right now in a regional contrast not so much about getting israelis and palestinians to talk. >> and, richard, you talk about some of the private discussions going on between the president and bebe netanyahu and king abdullah of jordan. the focus on the end game in syria and the threat from iran. this is going to occupy much of the president's time. >> it certainly will. if you look right now at the region, syria is imploding. it is exporting refugees. it is exporting instability. israel feels very threatened, very unsure about its future. that's obvious by the way they are walling themselves in psychologically and physically. and i think the president went there to give israel a big hug. some people in the region think that he went too far, that he went too far to embrace zionism as an ideology not just the state of israel, the
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palestinians generally were disappointed with the trip. nothing concrete coming out of it, but the idea was to make israel feel secure in an increasingly insecure region. >> all right, richard engel, just back from the region. he's in new york this morning. thank you very much, richard. to david brooks and e.j. dionne. what did the president accomplish in terms of how did he perform? that's a big aspect of the trip. >> it was a triumph. he hasn't brought peace to the mideast but the right loved it. the left loved it. he gave a strong, really strong endorsement and vocalization of what zionism is all about. he saw the world through palestinian eyes. politically or policy wise he moved us away from settlement freeze issues, sort of frozen debates, back to a pre--obama policy, which says israel is not going to be giving away land as long as extremism is on the march. we have to have some peace process so the moderates in the region can be strengthened. that's where america should be. i think
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that's where people on both sides want to be. he achieved that. >> e.j. dionne, there is the prospect of conflict that can roil the region from syria as well as the threat from iran. this ten years into the war. the president also has to prepare the american public for some kind of u.s. engagement. >> well, you know, i don't think he has to prepare the u.s. public yet for engagement. i think the supporters of the iraq war said it would be the big bang in the middle east. well, it was, but it didn't work out the way they had hoped. they were arguing that it would create a new and democratic middle east. well, there has been the uprisings which may or may not have had anything to do with the iraq war, but there's a lot of instability, but i think the president's trip was really important. he had three objectives and i think he achieved two of them. he had to get right with israeli public opinion. his standing in the polls there has been low and prime minister netanyahu could use obama as a kind of foil for the last four years. i think he clearly achieved that. he had to re-establish the two state solution.
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democratic israel and democratic palestine, as the only way out. the two-state solution has been losing ground. he succeeded in doing that. what's still open is, can he get these talks going again? richard is right. the short term is about iran and syria, but we have to make some progress, and kerry stayed behind trying to get that going. >> more from you two as we move on to other topics later on in the program. thank you both. we now want to turn to the debate over gun safety. mayor michael bloomberg of new york has announced a big push to put pressure on lawmakers who will vote on new gun control measures in congress. i discuss that and some other topics including the middle east when i sat down with him this weekend in new york. >> mr. mayor, welcome back to the program. >> thank you for having me. >> always good to have you. big week in the gun debate. i'll get to that in just a minute. let me start with the president's significant trip to the middle east. he's returned. do you think he's erased any doubts about whether he's a stalwart supporter of israel?
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>> no, i think he certainly said that he was and i think people believe that. i think that this is going to go down in history as one of the few trips that an american president has made to israel where there really were deliverables. he got israel and turkey talking to each other and restoring diplomatic relations, and i think that's crucial for the security of that whole area. he's got the palestinians and the israelis thinking long and hard about they're going to have to find some ways to resolve their differences no matter how difficult they are. you know, when you get people talking, only good things can come out. >> we'll be watching that closely as we're watching this gun debate as i know you are. here we are 100 days after newtown this weekend, after this massacre. there is a senate bill. it's moving forward with the assault weapons ban being taken out of the main bill. it seems doomed in the view of most. here is what you said after newtown when i had an opportunity to ask you some questions about it. >> the nra's power is so vastly overrated.
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the public, when you do the polls, they want to stop this carnage. and if 20 kids isn't enough to convince them, i don't know what would be. >> the nra's power does seem to be where it has always been. do you fear that the moment that was created by newtown has been lost? >> well, it would be a great tragedy for this country and for tens of thousands of lives if it is lost. having said that, i am cautiously optimistic. i think when you have an issue where 90% of the public, 80% of nra members even, say that they think we should have reasonable checks before people are allowed to buy guns, they all support the second amendment, as do i and there are an awful lot of people that think that this is one of the great issues of our
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time. we have to stop the carnage. >> you see that. you have democrats and republicans who are not moved by these polls. >> be better able to judge that after the recess. we're running ads around the country. we have people manning phone banks and calling. we're trying to do everything we can to impress upon the senators that this is what the survivors want. this is what the public wants. this is what the 900-plus mayors that are in our organization want. they're the ones that have to deliver safety to the streets every single day. this is what the 1.5 million people who have signed up to our demand a plan website want. i don't think there's ever been an issue where the public has spoken so clearly where congress hasn't eventually understood and done the right thing. >> you don't think the assault weapons ban is going to pass? >> well, look, we've been fighting since 2007 to get a vote.
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we are going to have a vote for sure on assault weapons, and we're going to have a vote on background checks and if we were to get background checks it wouldn't be as good as if we got both. but we demanded a plan and then we demanded a vote. we have the plan. we're going to get the vote. it's incumbent on us to make our voices heard. >> you sound much more resigned. you, after newtown, said the nra a is not as strong as it used to be. the nra is proving to be exactly as strong as it used to be, and here you seem to be celebrating the fact that there is at least a vote, but that's a far cry from achieving the result that you said were essential. >> yeah, well, i think we are going to win this, celebrating in advance isn't the right thing to do. we have to go out. we have a lot of work ahead of us. i don't think we should give up on the assault weapons ban, but clearly it is a more difficult issue for a lot of people. and i don't know that reflects the nra's power. it may be just that people have different views about assault weapons than they do about background checks. 90% of the people want background checks, period. and -- >> but you know the nra says, look, if you do that there's a
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secret agenda that the nra and wayne lapierre talk about which is create a registry of all gun owners, legal gun owners. he said, they either want to attack the guns or take them away. >> he can say whatever he wants. this isn't about wayne lapierre. this is about a public wanting to be safe on their streets. this is about the public having the right to buy arms and the right to protect themselves and the right to use them for sport or hunting. but, also, it's about the public's right to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. that's in everybody's interests. and, in fact, if you go back to 1999, wayne lapierre testified on behalf of the nra that background checks were appropriate and should be done and congress back in 1968 actually made them the law of the land, but they don't apply to 40% of the gun sales today. something like 58,000 gun dealers across this country, three times the number of mcdonald's stores, as a matter of fact, there are gun stores
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every place in this country, and those gun sellers -- they do background checks on all their clients. i think last year 78,000 times the government found reasons to deny people a permit to get a gun based on either they were criminals or they had mental problems. if that doesn't tell you that this is a real problem but good checks can really do something, i don't know what would. >> let me ask you about in new york the nra has filed a suit to try to defeat some of these gun control measures which are more robust than what the federal government is talking about within the states that are about magazines, about background checks and assault weapons. how do you react to that? >> well, anybody has the right to go to court and sue over anything. and in new york lots of people do that every single day. but the supreme court, which is the one that interprets what the constitution actually means and says, has said clearly that reasonable background checks are consistent with the second
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amendment. that's what in the end is going to stop all of these other suits. if the laws that they are trying to contest are consistent with that, they won't get very far. >> one more on this. you made it very clear this week you're paying attention to the vote in the senate, in congress, and you're taking names. >> yes. >> will you target people, republicans and democrats, who do not support a weapons ban, an assault weapons ban, do not vote for background checks, will you spend money, lots of money, to target them in 2014, in the midterm race? >> well, let me phrase it this way. i think i have a responsibility and i think you and all of your viewers have responsibilities to try to make this country safer for our families and for each other, and if i can do that by spending some money and taking the nra from being the only voice to being one of the voices so the public can really understand the issues, i think my money would be well spent and i think i have an obligation to do that. >> spend money on ads? >> we're starting to run ads
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today, tomorrow. i think i've spent $12 million on running ads in ten states around the country explaining to the public what the issues are and how -- and urging them to call their senators if they believe that we should have gun checks that stop criminals and people with mental illnesses from getting guns they should call their senators. >> will there be a political price to pay for a republican or democrat who fails to vote based on this public polling to make assault weapons banned or to vote for background checks? >> if 90% of the public wants something and their representatives vote against that, common sense says they are going to have a price to pay for that. the public is going to eventually wake up and say i want to put in office somebody that will do the things that i think are necessary for this country. that's what democracy is all about, and all we're trying to do is to tell them what people are doing in congress. who is voting for what. and then they can make their own decisions. >> a couple minutes left. let me switch gears and talk about the fight for personal
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freedom here in new york city. those people who oppose your effort in the name of public health to limit portion size when it comes to sugary drinks. a judge has ruled against you saying the law doesn't make sense at the moment. how far will you take this push to limit how much soda you can drink in new york city? >> oh, we're certainly appealing. we think the judge was clearly wrong on this. our department of health has the legal ability to do this, and we're not banning anything. all we're saying is we want to show you just how big the cup is. if you want 32 ounces, take two cups to your seat. if you want 64, carry four. but our hope is, if you only take one, you won't go back. >> wasn't this really about public awareness? >> obesity this year is going to kill more people in new york city than smoking. if you remember we put a smoking ban in, nobody thought that was going to work. today all of latin america, all of western europe, and almost every big city in america and most of the states are smoke-free. this is another thing. obesity is going to kill more people this year in the world
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than starvation. >> what about -- sodium-linked deaths in new york ski? >> we have to do something about it. deaths in new york city. 23,000? >> you look at the packaged goods manufacturers are now advertising low sodium and they reduced the sodium in their products. everybody is better off. >> where is the line? would you ban the salt shaker? >> we're not banning anything. we're trying to urge them to tell the public -- our job is to educate. it's the public's job to decide when they look on the grocery shelf or have the lever on a soda machine which thing to take, which product is in their interest. all we're trying to do is educate and then hopefully if they understand they would be better off with one product or another. they'll make the intelligent choice. >> you could do ads for education as the executive of new york city, you are telling people what they can and cannot do. why is that government's job to do that? >> we're not telling them at all. we're telling them what science says is or isn't in their interest. we allow you to smoke. we just don't let you smoke where other people have to breathe the smoke that you --
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that you're exhaling or comes from your cigarette. the same thing with obesity, which incidentally is a public interest because we're going to spend $5 billion on treating people of obesity in our hospitals in new york city alone this year. but regardless -- >> where is the line? where is it too far for government to go? >> i do not think we should ban most things. i do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom, and that is, for example, if you're drinking, we shouldn't let you drive, because you'll kill somebody else. if you are carrying a gun, we shouldn't let you on an airplane. there's a lot of things that we do -- if there's asbestos in the classroom we should remove the kids from the classroom until you clean the air, but in terms of smoking, if you want to smoke, i protect your right to dot that. if you want to own a gun, i certainly think it's constitutionally protected. you certainly have a right to have a gun if you want. if you want to eat a lot and get fat, you have a right to do it. but our job as government is to
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inform the public. >> mayor bloomberg being thanks as always. and here with me wayne lapierre of the national rifle association. mr. lapierre, welcome back to the program. >> thanks, david. good to be with you. >> the legislative moment has >> so t >> -- the moment has arrived here on capitol hill. what's going to happen with gun safety legislation? >> well, you just heard mayor bloomberg, but he's going to find out this is a country of the people, by the people, and for the people. and he can't spend enough of his $27 billion to try to impose his will on the american public. they don't want him in their restaurants. they don't want him in their homes. they don't want him telling what food to eat. they sure don't want him telling what self-defense firearms to own and he can't buy america. he's so reckless in terms of his comments on this whole gun issue. he talks about guns buzzing. he's talking about machine guns. none of these guns are machine guns. >> but is he going to have an impact politically? he wants to be a counterweight to youth. he wants to go into these races
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in 2014 and spend along with you. are you preparing to arm politically those who agree with you, candidates and what not in 2014? >> we have people all over, millions of people, sending us $5, $10, $15 checks saying stand up to this guy who says we can only have three bullets, which is what he said. stand up to this guy who says we can only have three bullets. stand up to this guy who says ridiculous things like the nra wants firearms with nukes on them. i mean, it's insane the stuff he says. >> let me ask you about background checks because the mayor referred to the poll 90% of americans want universal background checks. here is this survey from quinnipiac this week. among those people who own guns 85% support. are you thwarting the will of the american people by standing in opposition to universal background checks? >> no, not at all. here is the thing. the whole thing universal checks is a dishonest premise. there's not a bill on the hill that provides a universal check. criminals aren't going to be checked. they're not going to do this.
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the shooters in tucson, in aurora, in newtown, they're not going to be checked. they're unrecognizable. nra supported the national instant check system on dealers. we're a billion -- >> that was a reference to 1999 when you testified -- >> yeah. we're a billion dollars into this system now. it's not fair. it's not accurate. it's not instant. the mental health records are not in the system and they don't prosecute any of the criminals that they catch. it's a speed bump for the law abiding. it slows down the law abiding and does nothing to anybody else. >> but why not try to create a system where you could have a better opportunity to trace a gun that was used in a crime even if it's not 100%? you use such incendiary language, the idea a federal registry which does not exist today on legal gun owners even though dick's sporting goods and others participate in this. >> we've been trying for 20 years and the nra is up on the hill right now trying to get this existing system on retail
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dealers to work. but here's what they want to do. they want to take this current mess of a system and expand it now to 100 million law abiding gun owners. every time a hunter wants to sell a shotgun to another hunter in kentucky, every time a farmer wants to sell a rifle to another farmer, they want to make them go somewhere. where are they going to go? to a walmart? is walmart going to want to see them come into the store? the local police station, are they going to want to do it? there's going to be a bureaucracy, a diversion of police resources. >> isn't that preferable to a big loophole where you have 40% of private sales, one-on-one, where you have no ability to trace? >> here is the loophole. society, the hipaa laws, the mental health laws, medical records. the shooters in aurora, the shooters in newtown, they're unrecognizable. they're not going to be in the system. who is going to be in the system? you and me and our names are going to be in the system. there is going to be a list created. that list will be of you. some newspaper will print it all. somebody will hack it.
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there will be a registry. the obama's own justice department says they want a registry on this. >> you've been negotiating with some on capitol hill, like senator manchin. or at least not oppose actively that could allow this to pass? >> we want to fix the existing system on retail sales because our people are the ones that are going through it, getting delayed. it doesn't work. nobody gets prosecuted. it's completely ineffective and the nra wants to do things that make people say, which is, and i've been talking about it. i know the media doesn't want to talk about it. it's putting security any schools. armed security. >> you keep saying that. every time you've been here we've talked about it and i'm going to talk about it in a minute. i want to nail down this point. i think it's significant. are you prepared to support something that would have some kind -- will some kind of background check pass congress? >> we are working on a bill right now that will hopefully at least get the records of those adjudicated, mentally incompetent and dangerous into the check system that applies on dealers. most of the states still do not
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even do that. we need to see if we can get that done. we're looking to get better enforcement of the federal gun laws. we're working on laws to beef up the penalties on straw purchases and illegal trafficking which we want prosecuted. we're 80,000 law enforcement families. we're 11,000 law enforcement trainers. we want to make people safe. that's what the nra does every day. >> you oppose the assault weapons ban. there will be a vote on this separate from the main bill. nobody really thinks it's going to pass. but the vice president and the president are arguing that it should. here is what vice president biden said this week. i would like you to answer his challenge. >> sure. >> there's not one single thing being proposed, not one -- not one, not one -- that infringes upon anyone's second amendment constitutional right. this is not about anybody's constitutional right to own a weapon. tell me how it violates anyone's constitutional right to be limited to a clip that holds ten
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rounds instead of 30? >> and here is why the whole thing doesn't work. it was in the law ten years ago, it didn't work. the studies show it doesn't work. anybody who knows anything about firearms snows the ar-15 which uses a 223 cartridge is at the low end of the spectrum of rifle cartridges. every round that deer hunters use is more powerful, 243, 270, 308. this whole thing about the fact they're machine guns. they're different. they make bigger holes. they're rapid fire. it's a lie. gun owners know that. they may be a victim of the lie but they know the truth. >> but it's interesting. you're saying that it wouldn't work. you're not disagreeing with him when he says it's not an abridgement of the second amendment rate. right. >> oh, it is. they're the second most commonly owned firearm in america and it is an absolute abridgement under the heller case.
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let me give you the real sad thing, though. let me hold you a mirror right now to the whole national news media and the white house. i just got the track data from syracuse university on enforcement of federal gun laws. last time i was here i brought it from 2011. it just came out from 2012. do you know where chicago ranks in terms of enforcement of the federal gun laws? out of 90 jurisdictions in the country they rank 90th. why doesn't nbc news start with shocking news of chicago. of all the jurisdictions in the country, chicago's dead last on enforcement of the federal gun laws. why doesn't the national press corps when they're sitting down there with jay carney and the president and the vice president, why don't they say why is chicago dead last in enforcement of the gun laws against gangs with guns, felons with guns, drug dealers with guns. >> and you support those as felonies? charging them with a felony? >> absolutely. we want them taken off the
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street. if you're the president and the vice president and the attorney general and your job is to enforce these laws -- i'm talking about drug dealers, gangs and felons walking around with guns on the street and you don't do it, you bear some responsibility. >> do you think the nra can prevail in new york? you heard mayor bloomberg saying you can bring suits but it's within the realm of new york state to do so. >> they are some of the most commonly owned sporting firearms, target shooting firearms, self-defense firearms and, yes, they're protected under the heller gun state ban. >> you brought up school safety. you were here last time and when you addressed newtown you said that's the key. more armed guards in schools. south dakota has passed a law allowing that. 27 provisions now being undertaken to arm school personnel. were you right? >> 90% of school administrators 90% say that armed security, police officers in schools make
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those schools safer. not a mom or dad wants to drop their kid off at school and leave their kids unprotected. yes, we were right, and we're right the mental health system needs to be fixed. the civil commitment laws are in a mess. every police officer knows that. we can't even, as i said before, i've been working for 20 years to get those adjudicated, mentally incompetent and dangerous, into the national check system. we're still trying to get that done, and we need enforcement of the federal gun laws. we want to do the real things that make people safe. i mean, what's appalled me about this whole debate is how little it's had to do with making people safe and how much it has to do with the decade agenda to attack the second amendment. >> bottom line. will president obama sign a new set of gun control measures? >> i hope we end up signing something that updates the system and gets those mentally incompetent and adjudicated into the system. we forced the administration somehow to enforce the federal gun laws. i know they don't want to do it but they ought to do it.
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it's their responsibility. that would make people safe. put programs like project exile in every american city where if you're a drug dealer, a gang member, or a felon and you touch a gun, it's a 100% certainty you're going to be prosecuted and taken off the street. that ought to start tomorrow morning, but it won't do it unless the national media gets on the add min strax and calls them out for their incredible lack of enforcement of these laws. >> we're going to leave it there. wayne lapierre, always appreciate you coming on and taking my questions. >> thanks for having me. >> okay. coming up here, reaction and analysis from our roundtable on the gun debate. and the other big issue coming up this week at the supreme court. do gays and lesbians have the constitutional right to marry? the politics and the legal challenges ahead. joining us one of the key lawyers in the fight, david boies. plus, the rest of our roundtable, chairman and founder of the faith and freedom coalition ralph reed, had hilary rosen, and david brooks and e.j. dionne rejoin the conversation. up after this. rosen, and david brooks and e.j. dionne rejoin the conversation.
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you can follow me each day on twitter @davidgregory. this morning i posted some of the reading i've done preparing for the program this week including a great piece in "the atlantic" on king abdullah of jordan by jeffrey goldberg. i've even posted my ncaa bracket which is a disaster, but i am sticking with louisville to win it all. we are back in a moment with the gay marriage debate set to reach the supreme court this week. atu? it's healthier, ammonia-free. and with aloe, vitamin e, and coconut oil, my hair looks healthier than before i colored. i switched. you should too, to natural instincts. ♪ i don't want any trouble. i don't want any trouble either. ♪ [ engine turns over ] you know you forgot to take your mask off, right?
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and we're back with our roundtable. we'll get reaction to the gun debate in a few minutes, but i want to talk about gay issue coming up before the supreme court this week in our roundtable here to discuss it. look at polling, ralph reed, about americans' views about same-sex marriage, and if we put it up here it's worth paying attention to. 58% support it. in 2006 it was 36%. and the opposition is completely flipped. now 36% oppose it only and 58% opposed it back in 2006. is this country and therefore the supreme court poised to accept gay and lesbian marriage as true marriage equality? >> well, i wouldn't build a
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house on one poll. that same abc poll that everybody has made a big deal out of this week just a couple of months ago, it was 51%-47% for the same-sex marriage and against, basically, the jump ball. we have a poll in the last two weeks from quinnipiac university which shows that 47%/43%. on election day in the network exit poll 49%/46%. >> hilary rosen -- >> it's clearly moved but the idea the american people are, you know, universally for same sex marriage is just not backed up. >> one of the things you look at, hilary, the youth vote. those who supported that poll, 81% under 30 support marriage equality. where are we as the supreme court takes this up? >> well, and another interesting part about the youth vote, unlike a lot of other issues that ralph works on, the evangelical youth, according to alex lundry, mitt romney's data
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analyst, over 60% of evangelical youth support gay marriage. this has taken over the tide. i think the supreme court as good citizens as they are, are really going to decide this case based on what's fair and right based on the constitution, which is, is there a rational reason to treat two sets of loving couples differently under the law? >> david brooks, the country is divided. there are 41 states that either ban it or treat gay marriage as something different than traditional marriage. does that matter? >> yeah, but i think the trend -- i'm with hilary. the trend is pretty amazing. listen, we've had years of being a society -- has there ever been a society that's given complete equality to gays and lesbians until ours and currently western europe? no.
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this is a big, historic moment. the movement, i think, is overwhelming and gradual and almost irreversible. why has it happened? one, because a lot of brave gay and lesbian people had the courage to come out and people got to see them. second, because it became about marriage. it became about order, about having committed, long-term relationships which people conservative and liberal believe in. those two things have moved. the debate -- to me the only fear now is the court. the court overreaches and tries to impose a solution from the top and that sort of freezes and polarizes the debate. >> i want to get to you in just a second. i want to come back to you, ralph. david wrote back in 2003, we looked at your column in 2003, you wrote the following. the conservative court is not to banish gay people from making such commitments. it is to expect they make such commitments. we shouldn't just allow gay marriage. we should insist on gay marriage. what is your opposition to it? >> well, i think the issue before the court and the issue before the american people, and they have, after all, voted in 31 state referendum initiatives for traditional marriage, only three have they voted the other way. so this thing tests very
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differently at the ballot box than it does in a poll. the ish ubs at the ba-- issue a the ballot box is, do we have a compelling interest in strengthening and supporting the durable, enduring, and uniquely complimentary and pro-creative union of a man and a woman. >> you look at divorce rates -- >> the answer, that would be an argument for why we ought to strengthen it. >> let me get e.j.'s reaction. >> the reason why it's better for children and all the social science shows that. >> although the american -- >> academy of pediatrics disagrees. >> and another came out the other way. >> e.j., get in here. >> the conservative argument is actually better for gay marriage than against it. i have a friend who has worked for a fairly conservative christian organization for a long time who said our problem isn't that gays and lesbians want to get married. it's that they're the only people who want to get married. now he was exaggerating to make a point. his point was that family breakdown among heterosexuals is
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a big deal, and that if instead of arguing about gay marriage where we're talking about people hoop want to make a commitment together. we actually got together and said, how can we figure out what ways are there of strengthening the family? how can we figure out what economic forces are ripping the family apart. we can have a much more constructive conversation in the country and the second point i make is, you know, sometimes the supreme court issues rulings that are inherently divisive. the country isn't ready yet. i thought that was what this case was going to be two, three, four years ago. i now think that if the court rules in favor of gay marriage, it is simply going where public opinion is going. 50% of republicans under 50 in that post-abc poll supported gay marriage. >> here is another interesting point on the public sentiment which is the states that have legalized marriage, the public support for marriage is growing more rapidly than in other states. that means that what they have
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found is that married gay couples are just like other neighbors, caring about their families and their communities and their churches and their schools and the like. but ralph raises a point we cannot ignore. which is, the rationale that the opposition is putting before the supreme court. the only difference between a gay couple and a married straight couple that gets benefits from the federal government is that one has accidental procreation. i think that would be a surprise to a lot of infertile heterosexual couples. >> well, that's not really a fair characterization. >> of course it is. that's what the brief says and that's the point you just made. champion is the point of marriage is procreation. that's not the point of marriage. the point of marriage is love and commitment. >> what i said was the verdict of social science is overwhelming and irrefutable and that is without regard to straight or gay. in other words this applies to one-parent households. it applies to foster homes.
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it applies to the whole panoply. they've looked at them all. that the enduring, loving, intact, biological mother and father is best for children and it's not even a close call. and the only issue before the court is, is there a social good to that and does the government have a legitimate interest in protecting and strengthening? that's the only issue. >> let me turn to what is -- >> a definitive dispute. go ahead. >> i want to turn to that question for the court. we're talking about the politics behind the same-sex marriage fight, the legal aspect, of course, comes to a head this week it at the supreme court starting tuesday. nine justices will hear oral arguments on the two potential landmark cases that they will be looking at. the first time same-sex marriage laws have been reviewed by the court, but it won't be the first time one of the lawyers arguing a for same sex marriage, david boies, finds himself in the middle of yet another one of the country's most anticipated court cases. he, of course, vice president
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gore's attorney during bush v. gore which effectively closed the book on the 2000 presidential election by ending the florida recount and mr. boies is with me here. good to have you. >> good to be here. this time i have ted olson who is representing me. >> that's right. you guys are a team here which is striking. pick up on this conversation. what is it that you need the court to decide in lay language? >> sure. at the very beginning of this case, we said we needed to prove three things. we needed to prove first that marriage is a fundamental right. we needed to do that and the defendants even agreed with that. the supreme court has ruled that 14 times in the last 100 years. second, we needed to prove that depriving gay and lesbian citizens of the right to marry seriously harmed them and seriously harmed the children that they were raising. and we proved that, too, not only through our witnesses but through the defense witnesses. >> can i interrupt on that point? i think it's significant. which is, in effect, are you saying you want gays and lesbians to be treated as a protected class
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like african-americans? in other words, the burden is so high to discriminate against them? >> that's exactly what the administration brief says. but we believe that even if you simple apply to rational basis tests, there is no rational basis to justify this ban, and that's because of the third thing that we proved which is there was no evidence, none, that allowing gays and lesbians to marry harms the institution of marriage or harms anyone else. >> that goes to ralph reed's point. >> it does. i think one of the things that's important is that the evidence is that having a loving couple that are married is great for children. everybody agreed with that. but the evidence is, that's true whether it's a gay couple or a straight couple. and it's true whether it's an adoptive couple or a biological couple. >> isn't it possible -- >> that's the evidence. the evidence is absolutely clear that if you have a loving adopted couple, it is no worse
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off at all than a biological couple. >> look at the math, though. i want to come to the practicalities of, frankly, the politics of the court as well. we look at roe v. wade. these are the states highlighted in blue where same-sex marriage is banned. aren't you effectively asking the court -- i realize there's the difference between the california case and the defense of marriage act case -- asking the court to say with one stroke of the pen we're going to invalidate what those states have done and create a constitutional right to marry for gays and lesbians? >> every time the supreme court makes a constitutional decision, it's making a decision -- a certain fundamental rights are too important to be left to the ballot box. we've done that with race. we've done that with women. we've done that with every discriminating class. and, remember, when the united states supreme court outlawed the bans on interracial marriage in 1967, 64% of the american people opposed interracial marriage and yet when that decision came down, there wasn't a ripple.
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>> was roe v. wade decided too quickly? well, roe v. wade is an entirely different decision. we're not asking for a new constitutional right. the constitutional right to marry is well established. in fact, the supreme court has ruled that you can't take away the right to marry even from imprisoned felons who can't have any procreation because they can't get together, but you can't take it away from those people, because it's so important. it's such a fundamental right of liberty, and that right is already established. the only question is are you going to deprive gays and lesbians of this right because of their sex or the sexual orientation? >> handicap this. the "time" magazine about justice kennedy that he is the decider. how do you think this goes? >> i'm not going to get in the business -- >> you've talked about this already. you've been doing the handicapping. you don't think it will be close. >> what i said -- i think we're going to win but i don't think we're going to win 5-4. i think this is a basic civil rights issue. i don't think this is a kind of issue that will divide the court the way some other issues divide
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the court. >> do you think it's possible the court makes a decision that doesn't resolve the rights question? in other words, it doesn't resolve whether there's a right to marry? >> they could. there's a technical issue called standing that's raised here and the court could decide that the defendants don't have standing. that would result in allowing marriage equality in california because it would affirm the district court, but it would not have any general applicability. >> we will be watching, mr. boies. thank you for being here. we're going to take a break. more from our roundtable as we get reaction to the gun debate that you've heard here this morning. back after this. immer? no. we got nothing. we just bought our first house, we're on a budget. we're not ready for spring. well let's get you ready. very nice. you see these various colors. we got workshops every saturday. yes, maybe a little bit over here. this spring, take on more lawn for less. not bad for our first spring. more saving.
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roundtable. i want to ask you about the politics. we saw hillary clinton preparing herself for the run coming out publicly in support of gay marriage this week. does this change on the right? when does the political calculus change for republicans on gay marriage? >> i don't think it's going to change. if you look at the exit polls that i alluded to earlier, three-quarters of obama voters said they were for same-sex marriage. three-quarters of romney voters said they were not. so there are people in the democratic party who, you know, support traditional marriage. i thought it was really interesting, by the way, this week. i thought it was politico went to a lot of the red state democratic senators on the
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ballot in 2014. people like mark pryor of arkansas and others, mary landrieu in louisiana. they haven't changed their position, and i still think the republican party is going to remain a pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-life party. i don't think that will change. and if it does, by the way, i think the big tent will become a pup tent. if you look at the data, 44% of all the votes mitt romney got last november were from self-identified evangelicals. >> but ironically, again, romney's data analyst suggests that the republicans and independents who voted for the president, who, by the way, won, actually overwhelmingly support marriage quality, and so this is a growing issue for republicans and independents. you know, again, i think the point david boies made is so fundamental. which is, the constitution either protects all americans and all families or it
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doesn't, and politicians have never had the spine on personal issues. that's what the courts are for, to protect the spine of america. >> let me talk about the spine on the gun issue, e.j. dionne. this is coming to a head. reaction to -- well, you heard from mayor bloomberg and from wayne lapierre who sounded this morning like there's a little bit of wiggle room on background checks, perhaps not what bloomberg and others would like, but that there might be a background checks bill? >> i always thought it was easy to criticize the extreme end of the gun law before extremism. i didn't think i would for inconsistency. there was something odd about an argument that these gun laws infringe on the first amendment but we are not enforcing gun laws, laws to restrict violence strongly enough. i think that's very peculiar. i think the momentum is still with the advocates of saner gun laws. i think that the assault weapons ban is still hard to pass, which
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i think is very unfortunate, but it's nonetheless true. there is strong support for background checks and the issue there, i don't think we're going to get a bill on universal background checks. the real issue is, will it be compromised so much that too much will be given away? and i think there's a good chance of getting off -- banning the big magazine, and if you have that place law against gun trafficking, this would be a very significant victory for people who have been trying to get saner gun laws for a very long time. >> let me untangle the lapierre contradiction. i think he's right on one of the issues. over the last 20 years gun laws have become looser. over the last 20 years gun violence has dropped by 50%. tens of thousands of people are alive today, not because of any better gun law, but because of better policing. better policing, incarceration, some of the other things have huge effects on public safety. the gun laws historically, the brady bill very small effects. i support them. i think they would be moderately positive.
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i think the background checks would be moderately positive. there is no historical record these rules will have a huge effect on public safety. there is a historical record the stuff lapierre is talking about is the one area i agree with him on -- the policing. that has an effect. so my question is, why are we talking about these background checks and the magazines and the assault weapons bans which may have a small effect but the stuff that has a big effect? lapierre to his credit is talking about that stuff. >> meaning what? in terms of policing or school safety? >> no, not putting guns in schools. what's led to the huge drop? tens of thousands are alive today. it's because policing has changed. parole policies has changed. incarceration has changed. >> how ironic that the very same people pushing against gun laws and reasonable background checks are also the same people who have insisted on billions of dollars of cuts in government spending on the very same safety workers and police and firemen and the like that do have an
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impact on the society, and i just don't think they can have it both ways. this is going to come down to, you know, probably the six democratic senators who are up for re-election in 2014. and i think what we're going to see is what mayor bloomberg said which is that background checks and the points that e.j. made are going to seem very reasonable and modest. you know, one of the things about the focus on the assault weapons ban in my view, you're reaching for the stars. if you reach for the stars of the assault weapons ban, you might just get the moon in the background check. >> a quick response. >> our organization doesn't work on this issue so i'm speaking only for myself. i think the devil will be in the details. look, this bill already exempts family transfers. so newtown doesn't even get prevented by this. the mother could go out and buy an assault weapon ban -- an assault weapon, because harry reid has already said that is not going to pass in the senate, and she can give it to her son. that's what happened in newtown. it happens under -- >> stronger gun network.
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>> no. >> the second issue is, that the background check surntly is not really working. >> i have to take a break here. we'll be back.